06 Feb 2018 | 08.21 am
LEO Companies Added 3,700 Jobs In 2017
Brexit and GDPR are headline issues for micro-firms
06 Feb 2018 | 08.21 am
Companies supported by Local Enterprise Offices added 3,700 new jobs in 2017, bringing the total number of new jobs created by LEO-backed companies to 15,000 since the LEOs were set up in 2014.
The 31 LEOs, run in partnership by Enterprise Ireland and the local authorities, provide a ‘first-stop shop’ for supports available to entrepreneurs, start-ups and small businesses.
LEO network chairwoman Sheelagh Daly (pictured) aid: “These jobs figures are a testament to the determination of local entrepreneurs who are growing their own businesses with the help of their Local Enterprise Office. Every day, thousands of small businesses are accessing a range of supports through LEOs, such as training, mentoring, grants and microfinance loans.”
The preliminary jobs figures come from the LEO Annual Employment Survey, which will be published in full next month. The survey monitors employment performance amongst micro-enterprises employing 10 people or less that have received direct financial assistance through the LEOs.
The LEO network provides supports such as advice, training and mentoring, as well as direct grant aid to eligible projects. Funding includes feasibility study grants, business expansion grants and vouchers of up to €2,500 to help businesses trade online.
Daly added: “The Trading Online Voucher Scheme is a great scheme, as the eligibility criteria are very broad. Most micro-enterprises can qualify for a €2,500 grant towards developing their e-commerce activities.”
Mentoring provision is another popular service provided to entrepreneurs through LEOs, said Daly. “Most micro-enterprises do not have the type of management structures typically found in larger SMEs, so it is critical for them to be able to engage with a trusted, confidential and objective adviser.
“The LEO mentor scheme can be used to develop business strategy or to address specific business issues or opportunities that arise. In the LEO network, we are particularly keen to encourage businesses to engage with us on assessing their exposure to Brexit and putting in place plans to address it.
“For this year, we are seeing increased levels of investment in business development and expansion, including taking on employees, and an outward-looking approach to increasing sales and exploring new markets.”
She added that LEO-supported businesses should also be taking measures, if they have not already, to be ready for the General Data Protection Regulation which becomes law on May 25.